Long Time No Write

4 Aug

It’s been a while since I’ve had something to write. There just hasn’t been much going on lately, and there’s been pretty much no travel going on for me this summer. Aside from a couple of trips into Boston and Providence, I really haven’t gone anywhere. Bogged down with my first 40 hours a week-job, I’ve been finding very little spare time to get away, and even less time to get the energy to just get some thoughts down.

This is only temporary, but still a scary thing to consider. At some point in my life, I’ll be just as busy, scratch that, busier, and I don’t want to lose the passion of writing. If I don’t get to incorporate writing at a professional level, I want to at least be able to continue to do so at a personal one. I’ll need to find a way to balance out the time between work, play, and writing.

In upcoming travel news, I’ve made tentative plans with some friends I made in Spain to camp for a weekend in the Adirondacks in upstate New York in a couple of weekends. I haven’t gone camping since I was a little kid, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there and embracing nature. My friend David, who is living in Syracuse for the summer, just wrapped up a 5 week backpacking trip around National Parks. He camped out the entire time, so I’m sure he’ll have some good advice and tips.

Today I got my vaccinations for Ecuador, and though the injections themselves weren’t very painful, the bill afterwards was. After waiting an hour past the appointment time (letting the cost of parking increase), I discussed my options with the doctor, who was very helpful. We decided on vaccinations for Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and a prescription for Anti-Malaria pills.

There are three types of Malaria pills to consider before leaving for a danger zone. One type is taken daily and has few side effects. Taking it daily can become an annoyance, however, so this is recommended for shorter trips. The next type is taken once a week, but also up to a month after you return. The side effect with this pill, however, is “lucid, comic book-like dreams, and the possibility of psychosis.” As much as I’m interested in the possibility of starring in my own cartoon every night, I’m not too sure I want to risk losing my mind permanently. Still, the chances of developing psychosis are very rare.

The third type didn’t develop much interest, so we agreed tentatively on option 1, though it all depends on when I find out where exactly I’ll be placed, as this weighs heavily on the risk of infection. A few weeks ago I was talking to a co-worker who was in Vietnam in 1969. On the topic of Malaria pills, he said “they give you the runs pretty bad.” Yippee.

Speaking of that, I was also given a prescription for some pills to help with Dysentery in the event that I get it, which is a strong possibility. Oh boy, I can’t wait!

So after I received my Hepatitis and Yellow Fever shots I was all set. The Typhoid vaccine comes in two forms, oral and injection. The doctor recommends the oral option, whereby you take pills off and on for several days, clearing you for a year. This option makes you about 90% free of risk. The injection, however, only puts you at a 70% area.

Because of the terms of my insurance provider, they have to check what was done before they’ll even consider paying for anything. Though I’m not going to be a tourist, but rather a working volunteer, it’s quite possible that United Health Care won’t help in paying for any of these life saving vaccines, which I just don’t understand. And what’s the cost for all of these “luxuries?”

The receptionist told me I owed $400 without blinking, as if this were nothing. I gulped.

Not just a lot of money on a good day, this was particularly alarming because it’s more than I make in a week, I had to take the day off to get these shots, I’m saving up to buy a DSLR before I leave, and they told me they don’t accept credit cards. I had to go find an ATM downstairs, which luckily was my own banks, saving me the surcharge. And on top of it all, they didn’t validate the parking, adding on another $7 to the trip.

I’ve planned all along how much I would have to spend in order to do this year of volunteering, but I never even factored in the cost of inoculations. I suppose I can scrimp and save a little more, living more tightly in the last few weeks at home, but it’s just a sad addition to the stress I’m already seeing pile up as the time gets closer. Not only do I have to front all of the money straight out of college, watch as friends start making nice paychecks, but I can’t even count on insurance to cover legitimate expenses. But oh well, it was my choice to do this, and I’m gonna stick with it.

My friend Adam has already left to teach in Chile for the year, and though I haven’t talked to him yet, I’ve heard he’s doing OK so far. Soon enough it will be my turn to get on the plane, and when that happens, there will be plenty to write about.

One thing I’ve been thinking about, however, is the preparation I’m putting into this. I’ve never really done any research on where I traveled to. I more or less blindly picked Sevilla to study in, and like the idea of going to a place with few preconceptions or hopes of what it might be like. I want the place to speak for itself, and not hear someone else’s impressions guiding my own experience. But over the course of the summer, I’ve been reading up as much as I can on Ecuador. Not that it should have any profound impact on my time, but it’s going to be a bit different to expect something, rather than figuring it out on my own this time around. With less than a month, all I can do is earn some more money and enjoy the time I have left in the U.S.


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